April 2021
Issue 83
In This Issue:
  • Signal Spotlight: Bristol Evaluation and Retiming of City-Owned Traffic Signals
  • Safety Matters: May is National Bike Month
  • Innovation Station: 2021 Creative Solutions Award Program — Kickoff Webinar
  • Town Crier: Vernon DPW Helping Their Community Fight COVID-19
  • Sustainable Meriden Internship Program in Cooperation with Sustainable CT
  • Planning for Your Fill a Public Works Truck Food Drive
  • CTDOT Releases First Strategic Plan for Connected, Automated Vehicles
  • Sustainable CT: Foster Cleaner and More Diverse Transportation
  • To Mow or Not to Mow: What You Should Know for a Meadow
Signal Spotlight: Bristol Evaluation and Retiming of City-Owned Traffic Signals
The City of Bristol Public Works Department recently undertook a project to inventory and retime each of the city’s 36 signalized intersections. The goal of the project, which took approximately six months to complete (during the pandemic), was to create an inventory of the City’s traffic signal assets and to retime the signals to improve efficiency and reduce delay. Additionally, the project included training Public Works personnel to program the new signal timings into the controllers.
Much of the City’s traffic signal stock is over 20 years old, driving an increase in requests for maintenance. In recent years, the City worked to fully replace two signals in the downtown area. A few years ago, City staff noticed areas of congestion where the traffic signals were not operating as designed. The Public Works Department improved operations by installing video detection at 17 of the 36 signalized intersections to replace damaged, non-functioning loop detectors. The signal retiming project was the next logical step toward providing low-cost improvements to traffic signal operations and maintenance.

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If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact:
Theresa Schwartz, P.E., P.T.O.E. - Traffic Signal Circuit Rider
(860) 486-4535 or [email protected].

May is National Bike Month
With spring’s warm weather finally upon us, more people can be seen enjoying it by walking, running and biking. Biking is much more than just a recreational activity; it is a means for people to commute for work, access mass transit, get to school and move around their community. Cycling is also good for the environment, as it reduces vehicle congestion and emissions and provides health benefits. To celebrate and recognize all that bicycling offers, the League of American Bicyclists has designated May as National Bike Month.
In Connecticut, there are ten communities recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as Bicycle Friendly, the list of which can be found on the League’s website here. What does it mean to be a designated Bicycle Friendly Community? It means that these municipalities have focused on making cycling better by way of bicycle laws and ordinances, education, bicycle infrastructure and active bicycle advocacy in their community.

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If you have any questions about local road safety concerns, you can contact:
Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider at (860) 486-5847 or [email protected].
2021 Creative Solutions Award Program — Kickoff Webinar
Join us on April 29th at 10:30 a.m. for an interactive session on the 2021 Creative Solutions Award Program!
In this virtual roundtable discussion, we will share details on winning innovations from our Creative Solutions Guide, the National Build a Better Mousetrap Competition and answer questions about this year’s program.   Share an hour with us and walk away with some great ideas that could improve safety, save money and streamline your operation!
Register here to save your spot.
We are looking forward to catching up with you and catching you up on this year’s program! Hope to see you there!
Vernon DPW Helping Their Community Fight COVID-19
In January, the Town of Vernon decided to step up and host vaccination clinics. After receiving many complaints about issues with scheduling appointments through the State’s system they also opened up their own call center. The Vernon Department of Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments have played an integral role in Vernon’s vaccination clinics.
The departments have helped in many various roles:

  • Delivery of water, hand sanitizer, and body wash – handed out during waiting recovery
  • Registration
  • Staffing at the call center
  • Parking
  • Assisting elderly and residents into the clinic
  • Screening – temperature and COVID screening questions
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Fabrication of signage
  • Fabrication of trailer including graphics
  • Setting up of remote clinics
  • Transport of trailer and supplies to various locations
  • Staffing at Rockville Hospital for a joint Vernon/ECHN clinic

These departments have put in hundreds of hours and have helped with the vaccination of upwards of 8000+ residents from area communities.
Sustainable Meriden Internship Program in Cooperation with Sustainable CT
Sustainable Meriden is a student-led program that engages the community to achieve Meriden’s sustainability goals. Through the efforts of this program, environmental and social goals can be achieved while promoting a vibrant community and economic growth. The collaborative community engagement will help Meriden achieve certification through the Sustainable CT initiative and become a thriving, resilient city.
The goal of the Internship Program is to integrate local students as engaged stakeholders. This program is designed to facilitate youth-led participation in support of municipal efforts in the Sustainable CT certification process. Sustainable Meriden will provide professional experience that could lead to future occupational opportunities. Diversity and youth leadership will create opportunities for future generations who will contribute to improve the community and the environment in Meriden to preserve it for future generations.
To improve Meriden's physical environment and social environment to preserve it for future generations and provide equity in all decisions.
Click here to learn more.
Planning for Your Fill a Public Works Truck Food Drive
National Public Works Awareness Week is May 16-22, 2021. Have you started planning your Fill a Public Works Truck Food Drive?

The primary goal of the Fill a Pubic Works Truck Food Drive is to collect food and household provisions for local community food banks and raise awareness of public works departments' (DPW) operations, including highlighting the things that residents can do to help the DPW crews do their jobs. This is an opportunity to unite all public works departments during a positive annual event.
Food and goods donations are critical during the early summer months as schools get out, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tips for holding a COVID-19-friendly Fill a Public Works Truck Food Drive:

  • Work with a local food bank/food share program.
  • Organize a townwide public works truck parade; collect donations along the parade route.
  • Invite residents to the public works garage for a tour, price for admission is a donation.
  • Set up a GoFundMe campaign.
  • Place collection boxes at town buildings.
  • Work with a local supermarket; set up a collection site.

Remember, every little bit HELPS!
Sustainable CT: Foster Cleaner and More Diverse Transportation
What do the City of New Britain’s Beehive Bridge, shared parking in the Town of Killingly, and the Town of North Stonington’s walkability audit all have in common? They are all thoughtful local initiatives that earned recognition in Sustainable CT.
Sustainable CT is a statewide initiative that inspires and supports communities in becoming more efficient, resilient and inclusive. It also recognizes those communities for their sustainability achievements. Using a broad definition of sustainability, the program provides a menu of coordinated actions across thirteen sustainable impact areas, ranging from inclusive community building to clean and diverse transportation.  

Sustainable CT’s menu of actions build local economies, social justice and respect the finite capacity of the environment. Here is a list of those actions that fall within Sustainable CT’s transportation category, with an inspiring municipal success story accompanying each.

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CTDOT Releases First Strategic Plan for Connected, Automated Vehicles
The first statewide Strategic Plan for Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) was released by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) to support emerging transportation technology and mobility trends.

Specifically, the plan outlines strategies for advancing multimodal CAV-related services and infrastructure to address both current and evolving transportation needs.
Connected vehicles (CV) are vehicles that wirelessly communicate with other vehicles, roadside infrastructures, pedestrians and the cloud. Automated vehicles (AV) are those capable of performing all or part of the real-time vehicle operations in on-road traffic. The strategic plan explores ways connected and automated vehicles, or CAV technologies, could become a powerful tool in helping meet key CTDOT goals to improve safety; enhance mobility, accessibility and reliability; reduce congestion; support infrastructure state of good repair; provide efficiencies; reduce vehicle emissions and support economic growth.

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To Mow or Not to Mow: What You Should Know for a Meadow
With shrinking maintenance budgets on the horizon, municipalities and other public agencies have been researching options to reduce costs. One initiative that has frequently been considered is to reduce the amount of mowing for maintenance crews by adding turf. However, while turf is necessary for some public areas, there is a large up-front cost for equipment and continuous costs for labor, maintenance, fertilizer, pest management, and fuel. Alternatively, well-implemented and managed meadows and natural landscapes require much less costly maintenance and can offer substantial cost savings while offering other sustainable benefits to our communities.
Benefits of Meadow Establishment:
In addition to tangible financial benefits, meadows offer a host of ecological benefits. When an ecosystem is unbalanced, humans must develop alternative, engineered systems that are often costlier and less efficient than naturally supported infrastructure. Though more difficult to accurately quantify, potential benefits include stormwater control, increased wildlife and pollinator habitat, and reduced air pollution. Each of these benefits not only has positive economic impacts but also improves health and wellness for the citizens in the surrounding areas. For example, flood control can save thousands of dollars worth of property damage and insurance claims, increased pollinator habitat can positively impact local agriculture, or cleaner air can reduce significant health problems alleviating the need for people to stay home from work and school.

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If you have any ideas or suggestions for future Connecticut Crossroads topics, please feel free to email the designer Regina Hackett at [email protected]